MCAD Tech News (#275)

27 Jan, 2010 By: Cadalyst Staff

Parametric CAD Perfects Custom Motorcycle Parts

Truly Blessed Customs relies on Alibre Design to turn sketchy ideas into elaborate bike components.

By Cyrena Respini-Irwin

The ability to refine product concepts in real time using 3D mechanical CAD software has revolutionized the design of everything from jewelry to shoes to motorcycle parts. That's what the founders of Truly Blessed Customs discovered three years ago, when they started working on a neo-gothic air cleaner for a one-off custom bike. The unique cross shape was modeled with Alibre Design 3D CAD software, digitally prototyped by RedEye On Demand, and is now available to motorcycle enthusiasts everywhere.

In the beginning, Ray Chavez didn't intend to start his own company — he just wanted to buy a motorcycle to enliven the daily commute to his job at Sandia National Laboratories. Like many other residents of Santa Fe, New Mexico, Chavez has a flair for design and aesthetics; it's estimated that one in six of his fellow citizens is employed by the art industry. So it's not surprising that he was interested in creating a custom bike instead of buying a mass-produced model.

Chavez collaborated with Aric Singletary, a designer from Augusta, Georgia, to build the bike. With a custom frame from West Coast Choppers and an Ultima El Bruto Competition Series big-bore 113-cubic-inch engine, the bike dubbed "Don Diego" was off to a great start. To finalize his vision, Chavez wanted to use a cross-shaped air cleaner, but there were none available on the market.

That didn't discourage Chavez, who drew up a sketch of what he had in mind. Singletary then refined the design, adding the spider web elements to create a rounded shape that would accommodate a standard cylindrical K&N air filter. The result was visually striking, but with 35 component parts, the design would be very expensive to manufacture. Chavez and Singletary decided they needed the skills of a professional designer, so they enlisted Jessie Nichols of Brainchild Enterprises. Read more »

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Cyrena Respini-Irwin is Cadalyst's senior editor.


Parametrics 102 — Sizing Things Up

With the magic of parametrics, you can start with a rough sketch of a basic concept and then refine and revise the dimensions as the design proceeds.

By Bill Fane

It was a warm and sunny Christmas day. Captain LearnCurve and his gorgeous wife were sitting outside in T-shirts and shorts having Christmas dinner with their daughter, son-in-law, and three grandchildren...

Wait a minute! Doesn't the Captain live in Vancouver, host city of the 2010 Winter Olympics? Why were you wearing T-shirts and shorts at Christmas

There are two answers. First, Vancouver is not as cold as many people think. Second, they weren't in Vancouver, they were in a condo on Maui. They had arrived a week before Christmas. The kids stayed for three weeks, but the Captain and his gorgeous wife were stuck there until early March. Life is tough ...

Okay, I'm so relaxed here that I can't figure out a groaner of a segue ...

And the bad news is ... ?

... so let's just jump right into this month's topic.

My previous column introduced the parametric functionality in AutoCAD. We saw that there were two kinds of parametric constraints, and learned that the geometric ones work like "sticky" object snaps. We built three orthographic views of a part without using a miter line or any construction geometry, and saw how everything stayed aligned and connected when we moved or stretched anything.

Now let's look at the dimensional constraints. It could be argued that these are the "true" parametric constraints if we look at the origin of the word "parametric", which comes from two Greek words:


  • "para" means to work with, or to work alongside. For example, ambulance crews are paramedics; they work with the medical people.

  • "metros" means measure. The words "meter" and "metric" come from this same root.

Read more » 



Mark Your Calendar: MCAD Events


SolidWorks World 2010
January 31–February 3, 2010
Anaheim, California
Attendees can learn how to work more efficiently; network with other SolidWorks users, resellers, and employees; and explore the latest 3D technology offered by more than 100 exhibitors. Read more »

Pro/ENGINEER Technology Day Workshop Series
February 2–March 16, 2010
Various cities
You can test-drive software, network with peers, win prizes, and "design without barriers" in this workshop series from PTC Software. Read more »

Webinar: InspectionXpert for SolidWorks
February 3–10, 2010
10 a.m. EST and 2 p.m. EST
This webinar will address how InspectionXpert for SolidWorks works directly inside SolidWorks to generate ballooned CAD drawings and inspection sheets for first article or quality inspection processes. Read more »

For a complete list of CAD meetings, conferences, training sessions, and more, check out our calendar of events on Are you hosting an event that you would like to include in our calendar? Submit details at least two weeks in advance to


What’s New at


CAD Manager's Toolbox: Standards Enforcement Tools
Are you struggling with non-standard DWG files originating from other firms, or inside your own company? The Batch Standards tool can help. Read more »

Make Your CAD Resolutions Stick, Part 1
Getting everyone in a department to abide by standards takes more than determination — it takes a strategy. Read more »

What a Difference a D Makes
When it comes to conveying the vision of a building design, Selser Schaefer Architects found that 3D can succeed where 2D fails. Read more »

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